Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lounging in Langeais

For the day of my birthday itself, I was rewarded with beautiful blue skies and sunshine - very lucky, since it had pissed down all day on Saturday and Sunday wasn't much better. I was under stern orders from several people to do something fun, so I decided to head down the road about 20 minutes or so to Langeais, which I have heard nice things about, most recently from MadmoisElla who took a trip there which sounds much more chic than my efforts. She didn't (to my knowledge) come back with a photo of the toilets, for starters.

I arrived in at about 1pm, so I didn't want to go into the chateau before lunch, but I wasn't yet hungry. So I first went for a wander through the streets. Almost everything was shut, unsurprisingly for a Monday lunchtime in a small town out of season. There seemed to be relatively quite a lot of car traffic considering, but hardly any people out and about on the streets. Also quite a lot of empty (closed down) shops. Perhaps times are tough here, like everywhere. I came across a pedestrian street that climbed up the hill, so decided I would follow it. I ended up amongst some of the troglodyte (cave) houses of Langeais. Cave houses are not uncommon around these parts - I think the chalky cliffs are quite easy to dig into - but most of them are proper houses carved out of the chalk. This one? Not so much:



Based on this though, Langeais seems a pretty sweet place to be homeless. Find a cave all to yourself and you're set! I didn't want to stay around here too long though, to be honest. It was very deserted, and a cave with a blanket hung up outside kinda seems the perfect place to be raped (and by perfect, I don't mean it's what every girl dreams of ha ha)! So I forged on further up the hill, which disappointed me in that it didn't really provide good views of Langeais - too many bushes. So I headed back down to the river and checked out the bridge that is apparently a key tourist attraction and photo spot (according to the Langeais tourism website) even though it only dates back to the 19th century.



I then headed along the river back into town, passing the coolest sign ever:



"Poney", as I think I've mentioned, is my favourite French word, owing to its comical Cartman-esque pronunciation. Now I have the great pleasure of imagining a French person saying "La Ferme O'Poney". Just thinking about it cracks me up, I might actually have to show he picture to a compliant Frenchy and get them to say it for me.

By now, it was time for lunch. I went to the only place that seemed to be open, other than the fancy restaurant MadmoisElla dined at, a creperie next to the chateau. They had a whole bunch of outdoor tables, directly outside the restaurant and around the corner, under a canopy. But when I went inside to ask if I could sit outside the woman was all "No, it's too cold". Replying "No, it's not, I don't mind" didn't change her opinion of the situation, so inside it was. That's the French for you - anywhere else, if the customer wants to sit outside, they sit outside, surely?

This is a bit hard to see, but the menu sang the praises of oats - it's what gives Scotsmen (and horses) their legendary robustness and everyone else "physical force and sexual vigour". I didn't have any.


Instead I had an "English" crepe, seduced by talk of cheddar and bacon. It was okay, but I was a bit disappointed that it was plastic cheddar and French-style bacon, not quite the authentic English feast of my dreams. Oh well, only a couple of weeks until I'm scoffing bacon and cheddar to my heart's content! The icecream sundae I finished off with was nice though.

Duly fed and watered, it was time to hit up the castle.










It was first established at the end of the 10th century, by a guy with a pretty bitchin' name - Foulque Nerra, Count of Anjou, which I think means Black Falcon in old French, but I could be wrong. It subsequently got fought over quite a lot, before falling into the hands of the Plantagenets, and eventually getting destroyed by Charles VII, the dauphin backed up by Joan of Arc. The only bit of the old castle that still remains is the keep, up on the hill separate from the current chateau, which dates from the 15th century:





The joys of visiting somewhere like this on a Monday out of season is that it was totally deserted. I didn't see another soul other than the staff (and not much of them either) until I went out into the grounds later on. So this was basically a licence to dick around taking self-timed photos of myself in the rooms. On December 6 1491, the castle was the site of the marriage of King Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany (Ruth and I already learnt all this when we visited Anne's former home, the chateau of Nantes), and several rooms were dedicated to recreating this historic event.

Here I am at the wedding feast:


And at the wedding itself (disobeying the no-flash rule):


All in all, the chateau was pretty well done, nicely furnished etc. although not as lavish as somewhere like Chenonceau or with as many things to look at as Blois. Here's an 'interesting' tapestry:



And a mirror that I liked because it reminds me of the mirror in the Arnolfini wedding by Jan van Eyck. Like the van Eyck, you can even see me in it if you look hard:





You could also walk around inside the battlements, which was pretty cool. Here's a view from inside:



And me hanging out up there:


They even let you climb up some scaffolding onto the 11th century keep!



Finally, here's the promised picture of the toilets. The window, as you can see, was wide open onto the courtyard and I had very awkward eye contact with some guy outside! Luckily I was only hanging up my handbag onto the hook, but seriously, I don't really want any toilet-based eye contact with strange men. So watch out for that one if you're visiting Langeais!

3 comments:

  1. I LOVE that you went to Langeais!!! Since my trip there for my bday, it's become my favorite nook in France. I love your pics...did you check out the store en face de chateau "L'ange est rêveur" ? Where they open?

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  2. They were shut, everything was shut! It looked nice though, jealous that you got to stay there :)

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  3. Nice wedding snaps. Which one was you?

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